One of the on-going battles at Stars camp is in goal as the Dallas coaching staff looks for a suitable backup behind No. 1 goaltender Kari Lehtonen.
It’s a position the Stars have struggled to fill over the past three seasons using Andrew Raycroft, Richard Bachman, Cristopher Nilstorp, Dan Ellis and Tim Thomas.
This season it’ll likely be either Anders Lindback or Jussi Rynnas behind Lehtonen as the two battle in camp.
“It will be very hard. I mean, three weeks and just six exhibition games, you wish you had more time (to decide),” Stars’ goaltending coach Mike Valley told The Dallas Morning News. “But we got to spend some quality time together at the camp, and I think that gives us a great opportunity to really work off of the same page going forward.”
Lindback, 26, wasn’t retained by Tampa Bay after he struggled to replace the injured Ben Bishop last season. Lindback went 8-12-2 with the Lightning during the regular season and lost three playoff games.
“I’m very optimistic,” said Lindback, who signed a one-year deal with the Stars in July. “I think you push last year behind you and you work on being your best, and I think this team will help me do that. I know what I can do, and I know what I have to do, and it’s all up to me now.”
Rynnas, 27, has appeared in just three career NHL games all with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He spent last season in Finland posting a 28-5-7 record with a 1.51 GAA for Karpat before suffering a back injury.
With the confidence of last season his back pocket, Rynnas is looking for another chance at the NHL level.
“It’s the best league, and you want to play in the best league,” he said. “I feel healthy, I am excited to be with this team, a team on the rise, and I think they can push me to the next level.”
Rynnas signed a two-year deal with the Stars on July 7.
Both goalies will require waivers to get to the minors. As a result, if it doesn’t work out in Dallas, their efforts at camp could be used as an audition for one of the other 29 clubs.
“They’re both good goaltenders, and that’s one of the reasons we wanted to have them push each other,” Valley said. “They’re confident and hungry, and they want to win this battle, and that should bring out the best in both of them. They’re both excited, and that tells you something about how they’re looking at this.”
The Stars also have 22-year-old prospect Jack Campbell in the mix. The Michigan native was reduced to just 16 games in 2013-14 and is heading into the final year of his entry-level contract with just one NHL appearance under his belt.
Hopefully the Stars can finally find a suitable No. 2 behind Lehtonen, who has battled both groin and back injuries throughout his career. Both Lindback and Rynnas are more experienced making them a suitable fit for a backup role over Campbell, who will likely start in Texas of the American Hockey League once again.